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Skin Growths, Solar Keratoses&Atypical Moles

Did you know that skin growths including Solar keratoses and Moles (Nevi) can be very significant? As a Board-certified Dermatologist, I’ve seen many patients’ lives saved because they did get a lesion that ended up being a Skin Cancer or a Melanoma simply checked or evaluated by a Dermatologist.

So what are the really significant types of skin growths or moles? Let’s take a look at two types: Solar Keratoses and Atypical Moles.

The person in the photo above has a mole that's being evaluated by a Dermatologist.

The mole below is actually a Melanoma, a type of malignant skin lesion that began as an Atypical Mole (Dysplastic Nevus).

Solar Keratoses, also called Actinic Keratoses, are significant because this type of skin growth is actually considered precancerous, meaning that they’re at risk of turning into a type of Skin Cancer called Squamous Cell Skin Cancer. Current statistics show that Squamous Cell Carcinoma kills about 8,000 to 9,000 Americans each year, so catching precancerous lesions that can turn into Squamous Cell Skin Cancer (and be treated with liquid nitrogen or cryotherapy) is really helpful.

The person in the photo below has what's called a Congenital Nevus, or inborn mole. But it should be kept under observation, because it's dark. Dermatologists usually check these types of lesions at least once or twice a year, looking for changes that may indicate the need for a test called a skin biopsy.

So what do Solar Keratoses look like? They tend to be flesh-colored raised rough lesions that favor the sun-exposed parts of the body, like the arms, legs, and face. Often they continue to get larger over time, eventually starting to break down or scab or ulcerate.

Medical options for treating Solar Keratoses often include use of Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs), such as Glycolic Acid, which is in Chemical Peels and also in GlycoShea™ Creams, manufactured by Big River Silk Skincare, of which I am the President ( else use of a prescription cream called 5-Fluorouracil (Efudex Cream, or Fluoroplex Cream), use of a topical vitamin A cream called tretinoin cream (Retin® A Cream), and use of a prescription cream called Picato® (Ingenol mebutate).

Another type of significant skin growth is what’s called a Dyplastic Nevus or Atypical Mole. These moles can be present at birth or acquired, and they are often dark or pigmented lesions that have a raised center and a flat edge, somewhat like a fried egg. They can be a marker of people who are at higher risk of a type of Skin Cancer called Melanoma. Melanoma is a real public health problem in the United States, currently taking the lives of over 9,000 people a year, which is almost four times the number who lost their lives in the World Trade Center.

The person in the photo below has a type of Melanoma on his forehead. Typically this type of skin cancer has different shades of brown or black, and it shows a jagged rather than a smooth edge, and it would generally be evolving or changing over time.